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If you ask the guy or girl with the army of alts what they think of heirlooms, he or she will most likely tell you how great heirlooms are. When heirlooms were announced in Wrath, the players suffering from altitis all screamed out in joy. Something that would save them gold while leveling and make life just a little easier on the way to 80? Now 85? Yes, please!
At first, we had shoulder and weapon heirlooms that were only purchasable in Dalaran or Wintergrasp. The shoulder heirlooms sold in Wintergrasp were identical to the ones in Dalaran, save that you sacrificed a sometimes useful stat for resilience. In patch 3.2, the Argent Tournament was introduced and with it, chest heirlooms and another way to buy heirlooms. Once you obtained the title you could buy shoulder, chest and weapon heirlooms with Champion's Seals. This was a much more viable and cheaper option to those who didn't want to dungeon crawl to gather the badges needed or who were spending your badges on gear for raiding.
To some, the downside to these heirlooms is that they don't scale past 80. Cataclysm did introduce two new heirlooms that scale from 1 to 85: cloak and helm heirlooms purchasable once your guild hits the required level and you are honored.
I myself have a number of different heirlooms for my alts, everything from cloth to plate, with different weapons for each class and their specific role. I stopped using them on my priest because I was flying through the revamped zones and couldn't finish all the quest chains before they turned gray.
Do you have heirlooms for your alts? Do you prefer to use them while leveling, or do you keep it old-fashioned while leveling?